A fascinating fusion of memoir, manners, and cultural history from a successful businesswoman well versed in the unique challenges of working in contemporary China.
During the course of a career that has, quite literarily, moved her around the world, no country has fascinated Eden Collinsworth more than China, where she has borne witness to its profound transformation. After numerous experiences there that might best be called "unusual" by Western standards, she concluded that despite China's growing status as a world economy, businessmen in mainland China were fundamentally uncomfortable in the company of their Western counterparts. This realization spawned an idea to work collaboratively with a major Chinese publisher on a Western etiquette guide, which went on to became a bestseller and prompted a branch of China's Ministry of Education to suggest that she create a curriculum for the school system. In I Stand Corrected, Collinsworth tells the entertaining and insightful story of the year she spent living among the Chinese while writing a book featuring advice on such topics as the non-negotiable issue of personal hygiene, the rules of the handshake, and making sense of foreigners. Scrutinizing the kind of etiquette that has guided her own business career, one which has unfolded in predominately male company, Collinsworth creates a counterpart that explains Chinese practices and reveals much about our own Western culture. At the same time, I Stand Corrected is a wry but self-effacing reflection on the peripatetic career she led while single-handedly raising her son, and here she details the often madcap attempts to strike a balance that was right for them both.
When world traveler Collinsworth decides to spread Western etiquette to China in 2011, she learns more about Chinese customs than she had anticipated. She discovers to her surprise that "everything is slightly illegal in China," from legal documents to business transactions. She joins a friend for a business meeting, whereupon she is promptly offered $20,000 to write a letter to Angelina Jolie simply because she was American, it was assumed she knew the famous actress. Collinsworth finds that small talk and compliments are particularly difficult to tackle: an attempt by a host to compliment his guest goes awry when he calls her fat, which is considered a sign of prosperity in China. In between these faux pas, Collinsworth interjects her own lessons that address the nature of problem, so that readers can avoid such mishaps. The juxtaposition of these cultures can be funny or, at times, cringe-worthy but overall this is an entertaining take on life as a foreigner in China.